FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Oct. 1, 2020) -- Clockwise, through the fog.That’s how riders who signed up for the inaugural Tour de Fort Sill made their 27-, 37- or 48-mile circuits through the picturesque hills and valleys of the West Range Sept. 26.Cyclists took off before daybreak from the Lake Elmer Thomas Recreation Area Lodge, turned left at the LETRA exit, and followed one of three differently-colored routes to complete their chosen mileage for the day.When the sun did come up it was only a shadow of its usual self, winking dimly through the passing clouds. Fog swirled at ground level, making it necessary for motorists to slow down and turn on their headlights.Fort Sill police were out, many of them on bikes, to ensure the safety of cyclists on the winding roads.“There’s been a great need for some cycling events in the community, and with the Hotter ’n’ Hell and the Tour de Meers and other cycling events being canceled due to COVID, there were a lot of requests for us to put on a cycling event,” said Tenille Russell, community recreation officer for Fort Sill.So they ensured adherence to distancing guidelines because they really wanted to provide an opportunity for people to get outdoors, be active, and de-stress.Russell said the response was great. A total of 138 cyclists had registered by 8 a.m., and a few stragglers were still coming in. The 48-mile route was the most popular of the three distances offered, so she plans on offering an even longer route when Fort Sill does this next year.“We have had a lot of positive feedback. A lot of people are just very appreciative that there’s an event like this that they can do at the moment, and they’re very appreciative of the guidelines that we’ve put in place. We just wanted everyone to have a good time but feel safe at the same time,” she said.Terry Hall, sports supervisor for Fort Sill, said four water points were set up along the route to ensure that riders stayed hydrated.Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brandon Alvarez, a field artillery technician (131 Alpha) at the Fires Battle Lab in I-See-O Hall, was leader of the pack on the 27-mile route and the first to arrive back at LETRA.His wife Amanda served as his pit crew, and she waited for him at the entrance so she could get a cell phone video of his return.“I ride a lot, as much as I can,” said Alvarez, adding that he tries to make as many tours and races as possible. In a typical year he goes to about 20, “wherever I can go. I like to tour. Touring’s my favorite kind. It’s not so much about racing, it’s about trying new routes and seeing if I can see new things and get healthy, stay healthy.”Alvarez said he was trying to get through the course quickly: “I can’t take it easy. I don’t know how to do that. So I try to get as fast as I can, to where I’m about to hurt, and then I just back off. That’s how I like to do it.”On the straightaways his speedometer registered 25 mph, and downhill he got up to 35. Uphill he was somewhere between 6-12 mph.Tina Whitten of Shawnee said somebody shared this event on Facebook, and so she went ahead and registered, thinking, “That sounds like fun.” She just started cycling this year, and this was only her third ride. Her husband, David Whitten, came with her, but he didn’t ride.She took the 27-mile route and found it pretty. She did a 40-mile route at Coweta the weekend before and plans on going to Chickasha this weekend for another 27-mile ride. She described it as a hobby, “something fun to do.”Marine Col. Christopher Tavuchis, commandant of the Marine Corps Artillery Detachment, is 54 years old and still going strong despite breaking an ankle at the beginning of July.“It’s healed up pretty much. I’m not quite running on it yet, but I do 27 miles on a mountain bike,” Tavuchis said.The Tour de Fort Sill was “absolutely” part of his physical therapy, “but it’s also an opportunity to get out, support our MWR, and at least represent the Marine Det.”Tavuchis called riding in the fog “fantastic.”“It was really good, actually ... you couldn’t have better conditions for riding. Perfect, absolutely perfect. I didn’t even need sunglasses. Great weather today. Great event,” he said as he thanked Shane Dunleavy, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s chief of community recreation, for putting it on.Military spouse Sanela Fowler of Cache said she’s into road cycling, but this was her first cycling event since the pandemic began.She participates in Cycle One and the South Oklahoma Bicyclists, and has been riding for about three years.“It’s awesome” to get out of the house, “and perfect weather, too,” she said, giving an enthusiastic “yes!” when asked if she liked the fog.“I enjoyed the scenery, too,” she added.Her Soldier-husband was home watching their children while she got her much-needed break.Husband-and-wife Steve and Linda Powell made the ride on a bicycle built for two. Now that he’s retired, they’re enjoying their longtime interest in riding tandems.“This one we’ve only had about a year. We’ve had several other tandems for quite a few years before this, but this is a relatively new one for us,” Steve Powell said. Linda Powell used to ride a single bike, but she had some medical issues and decided she would prefer to ride tandem with her husband instead.They normally go on several bike rides each year, but because of cancellations they haven’t been able to make many in 2020.“We have missed them a lot. We thoroughly enjoy going to the different bike rides, especially the tandem rides, because there are lots of people who ride tandem at those. They’re a lot of fun,” Steve said.“This was great that they got this done,” he said, adding they would gladly go on another Tour de Fort Sill. “You know, what’s interesting is, Fort Sill’s the best place in the world to ride bikes. It’s safe. The roads are good. It’s great. I work with the Tour of the Wichitas also, and we do it out here. And it’s one of the best bike rides in the state of Oklahoma when you can get out on Fort Sill. And the (Wichita Mountains Wildlife) Refuge, too.”